Awande Mabaso, a qualified pastry chef and chocolatier and passionate advocate for women's rights, works full-time as a lecturer at the Capsicum Culinary Studio in Rosebank, Johannesburg (the school also has campuses in Port Elizabeth, Boksburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban).
"Growing up and watching television, I always thought that the hospitality industry, particularly in the kitchen, was a male dominated environment. I was not wrong. You can almost smell the testosterone. However, I have never subscribed to the saying 'It's a man's world'. I was determined to find my place within the industry. The industry is not one that is easy for many women – from trying to climb your way up; not being overlooked because you are a woman and changing each workplace's view on workplace harassment. I must note, though, that there are quality men who believe in equality and I thank each of them for believing in me on my journey.
"Being a lecturer at Capsicum has meant that I can encourage other female students to find their place in the industry; find their voice and see themselves in positions where they can dominate the industry. Whether it be the head chef in a restaurant, on a cruise ship or being a successful entrepreneur in the culinary industry. Rome was not built in a day but it takes just one person to lift another one up to be better than they ever thought. This is something want to do for women within the hospitality industry.
"I am also an advocate for body positivity, mental health, equality for all and supporter of all survivors of abuse and assault. I make use of my Instagram @powerfulbodymind and my blog Powerful Body and Mind to champion these causes and let others know they are not alone- and can also still thrive in their lives."
What is it that drives you to succeed every day?
The idea of making an impact, however small, is what drives me to succeed. Success can be measured in so many different ways, so looking back at my day and seeing what is it that I have been able to achieve, keeps the feeling to succeed burning so much more.
What is your advice to those who want to enter the industry?
Be brave and be yourself. This industry is about discipline. However, it isn't an industry where you should change who you are. There are amazing and different personalities in the hospitality industry and that makes it beautiful. Also be brave with your work and be brave when situations feel like they can get the better of you. It's a tough industry for anyone and every part of the industry can test you.
What do you consider your biggest achievement?
In hospitality, it's been having the privilege to create beautiful products that have been sold in retail stores nationally. Knowing that I have contributed and had hundreds of people taste some of my creations is my biggest achievement. However, this may change. I am never satisfied and strive to achieve more each time.
What has been your biggest learning moment?
This is a tough one, because I have so many but if we are looking at the industry, I would say being ignorant about people and their cultures. I have worked in establishments that have 200 and more people. So I have had to learn to not offend people, being aware of my privilege I have had in life and embracing different people.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your teenage self?
I would tell myself this "You are brave, you are strong, you are worthy". I would also tell myself that I am so much stronger mentally and emotionally and to stop self-doubting myself. Confidence is key!